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Indonesia to decide on new capital by the end of the year: official

Facing gridlock and the grim reality that Jakarta could soon be subsumed by water, the Indonesian government says it is moving ahead with plans to move the country’s capital

A general view of heavy traffic on a main road in Jakarta, 08 April 2016. Photo: EPA/Mast Irham

Indonesia’s government will complete its assessment of which city should replace Jakarta as the country’s new capital by the end of the year, an official said on Monday.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, head of the National Development Planning Board, made the announcement at an event convened by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Jakarta Post reported.

“It has to be outside Java,” Bambang told the Antara news agency on the sidelines of the event, adding that “the final decision will come within this year”.

The sprawling metropolis faces an infrastructure crisis fuelled by rapid economic growth, the devastating threat posed by climate change and insufficient public spending. According to a recent ADB report, Indonesia spends $23 billion a year on infrastructure, $51 billion less than needed.

What’s more, the constant drilling of new wells to source fresh water means the city is sinking at an alarming rate—some say the city has as few as two years above water left unless swift action is taken.

JanJaap Brinkman, a hydrologist with the Dutch research institute Deltares, told the Guardian in November that the city only had two options: “retreat or advance”. 

“We either abandon and evacuate north Jakarta, which is a non-starter, or we advance out into the bay with the seawall,” a $40 billion waterfront city project designed to keep the city from sinking. 

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